Septic Systems

Surface Water Wastewater

Septic Systems

September is National SepticSmart Week

This year’s National SepticSmart Week is September 18-22, 2017. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a week in September each year to focus on improved awareness of proper operation and maintenance of septic systems across the United States. The wastewater of approximately 25 percent of the population of the United States is treated by on-site or individual wastewater systems. In Nebraska, this statistic holds consistent with 25 percent of our state’s population being served by onsite wastewater systems on farms, acreages, suburbs and even some small communities.

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Troubleshooting Septic Systems

Problems sometimes occur. Some of the problems that occur include: sluggish drainage, contaminated drinking water, wastewater surfacing in the yard, odors, and pipes freezing.

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Septic systems operation and maintenance overview

Pump tank regularly. Have a professional inspect and pump the tank. Conserve water and spread usage over a period of time. Manage solids. Keep hazardous materials out. Let the system work naturally. Avoid drainfield compaction. Avoid introducing excess water to the drainfield. Maintain structural integrity of the drainfield.

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What Happens in the Trench?

The effluent is distributed through the pipes/gravel or chambers, then percolates down into the soil. Oxygen is present and aerobic bacteria break down the waste. Viruses are held by soil particles and die over time.

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Drainfield Size & Design

An important soil characteristic, the percolation rate, measures how long it takes water to drop one inch in a saturated hole dug in soil. Fast: 1 inch in 3 minutes (sandy soil). Slow: 1 inch in 48 minutes (clay soil). If it takes less than 5 minutes for the water to drop 1 inch in a saturated hole, the effluent will move too rapidly to be treated properly, such as in sandy soil.

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